At the end of every quarter I receive information about how many of Transformation copies have been sold and the money is deposited in my account. The first notification was at the end of February. I was quite disappointed at the figures. I had hoped and prayed that enough books had been sold to eliminate the debt accumulated in publishing and marketing costs. So, I have waited for three months to see the next result. A new way of looking at the process came to mind. I began to think about Jesus and the feeding of the 5000. When the disciples told him to send the crowd away so they could find food, Jesus told them to give them something to eat. They told Him they only had a few loves of bread and some fish. Jesus took the loaves and fish, lifted them up and gave thanks. There was enough for all of the people to be filled, with an excess left over. I am like the disciples, but I want to be like Jesus. I am going to give thanks to God and wait. He will provide. I can’t complain. After all, my hope is that if only one person is changed because of my book that is enough. More than one person has said that what I wrote has brought change in their lives. What the Lord wants to do beyond that is His business. That should be the focus for all of us.
I’ve heard a lot of people talk lately about knowing Jesus. The alternative is knowing about Him or knowing of Him. I’ve been preparing to teach a lesson at the next session of the church cell group I belong to. The lesson is based on John 15, in which Jesus calls Himself the True Vine. He also names us who are His followers. We are the branches, and we are to bear fruit. I thought at first that this would be a relatively easy lesson since the chapter is a well known one. You could have fooled me. I discovered such depth in Jesus teaching that I felt like I’d jumped into the ocean without a life vest. It helped to start by identifying what the context was. The previous three chapters emphasize the fact that Jesus’ time had come. That meant that He wasn’t going to be with the disciples face to face in a short time. The disciples kept revealing their lack of understanding, their confusion and frustration. Like Jesus has always been, He didn’t leave them hanging on a rope without a means of escape. In leading up to His teaching about he vine and the branches He mentions several things several times: love, obedience, His word, and unity expressed as “being in me,” being in you,” being in the Father,” being one. Getting into the vine teaching He describes how the branches bear fruit or not and how fruit bearing is handled by the Father. It all depends on being “in the vine.” A well pruned branch bears much fruit–if it is in the Vine. The amazing revelation is that fruit bearing has to do with obedience and love. They are “in each other.” On a daily basis, in order to know Jesus, we need to be in the vine, in a relationship with Him that is never broken. We know Him by knowing His Word and by prayer, or conversation with Him. God is glorified by the fruit we bear, but we do not bear fruit without the vine. “Without me you can do nothing.” It’s all about Him and the love He expresses through our obedience.